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Your Diet & Your Period

A woman's diet directly affects her hormones and menstrual cycle. Paying attention to what you eat can produce a more regular, less painful period, and a healthier state of mind.

The range of symptoms associated with PMS are caused by changing hormone levels that happen throughout the menstrual cycle, particularly that of estrogen. These changes can cause cravings as our basic metabolism speeds up and the body demands more calories.

These cravings gradually diminish a day or two into menstruation, but by then, many of us have already given into the siren call of energy-dense, fatty and sugary foods that activate the brain’s reward system, a.k.a. comfort foods. Chocolate, a known favourite, has a strong effect on one’s mood, immediately increasing pleasant feelings and reducing tension.

Ironically, the consumption of comfort foods increases negative emotions in the long run, so if you want to lift your mood, it may be best to think twice before reaching for guilty pleasures.

Here are some tips for a mood-lifting (and generally healthy) diet:

  • Avoid processed foods, which are high in undesirable food additives and preservatives that interfere with “good” intestinal bacteria.
  • Instead of vegetable or fruit juice, increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Frozen fruit with no added sugars and additives is also a good choice.
  • Be sure to include a good amount of grains and legumes in your diet.
  • Eat foods that are rich in probiotics, such as plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Fermented foods promote a healthy gut.
  • Favor seafood and lean poultry over red meat.
  • Remember to drink enough water! Adequate hydration is vital for bodily functions such as keeping your breath fresh, temperature regulation, and joint lubrication.

The amount of food you eat will have an effect on your well-being. Go for smaller, more frequent meals rather than a few hearty ones. This will help keep your blood sugar steady. Also, remember to be consistent—maintaining a healthy diet throughout the entire month will be much more effective than switching things up right before your period.

What supplements could help relieve physical symptoms of PMS? Does drinking more water during menstruation make bloating worse? Read more about Your Diet & Your Period here.

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